Once a week, Verily Table subscribers receive a tidy roundup of recipes and podcast episodes that we’ve curated from around the web. But behind the scenes, it’s a little more complicated. Sometimes we listen to a podcast episode only to discover that it’s not as interesting or informative as we hoped. Sometimes a recipe just flat-out flops. And sometimes, we do like a recipe or podcast episode—but not quite enough to recommend.
So, to offer some insight into our process, the following are recipes and podcasts that didn’t make the cut—and why.
Southwest Black Bean Polenta Casserole
I had high hopes for this recipe—it seemed like it would be great for eating on the cheap without sacrificing flavor. But it started off a bit challenging when I couldn’t find instant polenta in either of our small town’s grocery stores, which meant I had to make it myself. Polenta, an Italian porridge, is not hard to make (I used this recipe), but it added a good 30 minutes to my prep time. Still, I forged ahead, though it did concern me that if I couldn’t find this basic ingredient, other Verily Yours readers might not be able too, either. As for the finished casserole, the Southwest flavor was good, and my husband thought the dish was great, but I didn’t care for the mushy texture of the polenta I had spent so much time making. Mush topped with some beans, no matter how nicely spiced, simply wasn’t worth recommending. (Though if you like polenta, you might enjoy it!) – Kellie Moore
Delicious Swedish Meatballs Using Frozen Meatballs
The first night I made this recipe, I LOVED it. In less than half an hour and with a handful of basic ingredients—frozen meatballs, beef broth, sour cream, flour, and butter—I whipped up a big pot of creamy, comforting meatball goodness. We ate the meatballs and gravy over egg noodles, which was a delicious combo (though I couldn’t help but think they’d be even better with mashed potatoes, like at IKEA). However, the leftovers the next night were a different story. Some things congeal in the fridge, then return to their normal state once they’re properly warmed. But not the gravy with these meatballs—far from it. It was lumpy, and still a bit gelatinous, no matter how long I heated it. It tasted okay, but the texture was all wrong. Since the leftovers were a flop, I decided this recipe wasn’t worth recommending. (That being said, if you’re feeding a crowd and can use up the whole batch in one night, it’s worth trying!) – KM
Slow Cooker Brown Sugar Balsamic Chicken and Vegetables
I wanted to love this recipe: it’s one of those all-in-one deals where your entire meal goes into the slow cooker (in this case, chicken thighs, carrots, potatoes, and green beans). But while it was pleasantly easy to make and everything was cooked properly, the flavor just wasn’t there—that is, unless you like the flavor of plain cooked chicken and vegetables. (Not bad, of course, but not stellar, either.) In retrospect, I probably should’ve guessed that ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar and some brown sugar was not enough to carry a whole Crock-Pot full of food. If I make this again, I’ll try a different sauce (and not so sparingly). – Laura Loker
Hidden Brain: “When Did Marriage Become So Hard?”
I’m a big fan of Hidden Brain, and we’ve included many episodes in past Verily Table editions (and I’m sure we’ll include more in upcoming editions). This episode had a lot of potential. It talks about how our soulmate mentality toward romantic love has put too much pressure on marriage. There is great discussion about how we’re asking one romantic partner, our spouse, to fill the multiple roles that extended families and friends used to fill. The research and logic throughout most of the episode is solid, and frankly inspired me to dive into my community of family and friends more. I was excited to think this episode was going to suggest we need to return to community life that includes extended families, friends, and neighbors.
But instead, in the last five or so minutes, the guest—social psychologist Eli Finckle—concludes that one way to take “pressure off of marriage” is what he calls “consensual non-monogamy.” He admits it’s a “more controversial option” he offers in his work, but suggests it’s an ideal option for couples who have a happy marriage but want to “reduce disappointment” in the romantic realm. He claims it’s not cheating, because it’s “consensual.” But all I could think is how unproven this suggestion is, not to mention risky, adding layers of complicated feelings to a marriage. It really undercuts the argument in the rest of the episode. – Meg McDonnell
How I Built This: “Panera Bread/Au Bon Pain: Ron Shaich”
I often come away from How I Built This feeling hopeful and inspired, mostly because of the deeply personal element of so many of the stories. Panera is one of my favorite restaurants, so I was particularly excited about this episode. But the episode fell short. It focused heavily on the practical elements of the businesses involved, such as when and how Shaich came to buy them, and how he made changes over the years, without really touching too heavily on tensions or challenges along the way, and without getting too personal. While it showcased Shaich’s skill as a businessman, the episode felt slow. Though I did listen to the whole thing, my interest dwindled by the end—perhaps because the vulnerability and tension that usually make HIBT so compelling were missing. – KM
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